Fifth-grader Alexis Hilton says she won’t forget the many lessons she learned Tuesday at the Noble Foundation’s fifth annual Ag Safety Day.
One in particular she will take away is that extra riders in the cab of a tractor means extra danger, the Turner Elementary School student said.
“Only one person can be on a tractor for safety,” Hilton says. “You shouldn’t play around tractors or walk under the bucket. Around farm equipment, you need to be very careful.”
Hilton’s classmates Graci King and Shelby Hathorn added other important safety tips they learned at the youth education event taught by Noble Foundation staff who encouraged proper safety on and off the farm in areas such as lawn equipment, water, tractors, weather, electricity and chemicals.
“There are different life jackets that are all made for all different sizes, and it is important to wear the one that fits you,” says King, of what she learned from the water station.
“I like how they are teaching us basically how not to get hurt or get killed,” Hathorn says about each of the stations.
Those valuable lessons and much more are what the Noble Foundation hoped each of the 150 fifth-graders who participated in Ag Safety Days would walk away with, says event chair James Rutledge.
“We are being advocates of safety,” Rutledge says. “We want to keep kids safe. If they leave today and remember what they’ve learn and it prevents an accident, we’ve done our job to keep them safe.”
The Noble Foundation is not alone with a goal to teach youth about the possible dangers on their farms or visiting farms of family and friends. The Progressive Agriculture Foundation works with agriculture organizations and schools annually to host safety day events. This year, more than 400 safety events will take place in North America, each offering education, interaction and fun activities. For southern Oklahoma, the Noble Foundation was the host of the Progressive Agriculture Foundation’s curriculum with Noble Foundation staff teaching and leading students through various safety stations.
The Noble Foundation staff welcomed students from Greenville, Mannsville, Marietta, Turner, Thackerville and Springer schools to its Ardmore campus Tuesday for the event. Students visited six stations, each focused on an area in agriculture where safety is absolutely necessary and where, without taking precaution, accidents can happen.
“Ag safety is important for all students, even it they don’t live on a farm,” said Robyn Peterson, spokesperson for the Noble Foundation. “Many may go visit their grandparents’ farm or go to a friend’s house who lives on a farm. We want them to be thinking about safety issues and know their importance.”
Students learned the importance of wearing proper clothing and safety equipment before handling farm chemicals at one station, taught by David McSweeney. Following a discussion on the risks involved with farm chemicals, the students ran a relay race in protective clothing, giving them a feel for all the necessary pieces to adorn before touching a chemical.
Over at the lawn safety station, Robert Wells told students the importance of being alert around lawn equipment like lawn mowers and weedeaters. Students watched as a hot dog was cut to bits in seconds by a weedeeater.
The tractor safety station, led by Steven Smith, stressed obtaining proper training before ever turning the key in a tractor, as well as understanding the safety features on a tractor. Students also watched as a tractor bucket hit the ground, demolishing a watermelon. This demonstration taught the youths the importance of not playing around tractors or other farm machinery.
OG&E employees also teamed up with the Noble Foundation to speak to students on common hazards and unsafe activities around power lines at an electricity station.
In the afternoon, firefighters from the Ardmore Fire Department arrived, complete with a fire truck, for the egg drop event. Before arriving at Ag Safety Day, each classroom constructed a “helmet” to keep an egg safe when dropped from the top of the fire engine ladder.
As the students went from station to station, discussions among classmates continued about the safety lessons learned. That’s exactly what the Noble Foundation hopes continues as students interact with family and friends in the future.
“The students do go home and teach their parents exactly what they’ve learned,” Peterson said.